I’ve read a lot of scary books over the years, and quite a few involving creepy, supposedly ‘haunted’ houses. Most were really good, some were even great, but this debut novel by Andrew Cull is certainly the scariest I can remember.
What really worked for me (terrified me) was the ominous and claustrophobic nature of the house. The insidious darkness and the strange shadows, that almost become characters themselves, created such a eerie tension that haunted the very pages themselves.
So what’s it all about? Lucy is a grieving mother. Her son, Alex was brutally murdered 9 months ago after being kidnapped and taken to this aforementioned house. There he was shot before the kidnapper turned the gun on himself.
Obviously, this barbaric act hit Lucy hard, and as is stated in the book, the night Alex died was the night that the whole family died. Lucy checked herself into a psychiatric hospital where her thoughts and memories and possible delusions began to consume her. Early on in the story she checks herself out of hospital against the advice of the medical experts, and decides to visit this terrible place where her life was changed forever.
Lucy is convinced her son is still there in some aspect. She tries to communicate with him and purchases a ouija board to try to find him. Things get seriously creepy when messages appear scrawled on the walls and ceiling, appearing to Lucy as contact from beyond the grave.
There is a real ambiguity to this tale, well that’s what I took from it anyway. I’m not going to spoil it but there is the question of is it supernatural occurrences, or a grieving mom who’s going insane? I think I know which side I’m on, but then again there are a couple of moments that make me question my stance.
And that is one of the many things that makes this book great. Is the house haunted by the ghost of Lucy’s son (or something much worse) or is she completely losing it in possibly the scariest place ever?
To be honest it doesn’t really matter. Insanity or not, the creeping dread that is presented here is so damn scary that I really hope she’s insane, because that small amount of solace may help me to sleep a little easier.
I’d heard so many good things about this book it was about time I got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did. This is just the sort of story I love. Terrifying, sad, and with a subtle amount of blood and gore.
There’s one particular death that is so well executed (pun intended) it’s like you’re watching it in slow motion. In. All. The Gory. Details.
This should be on every horror fan’s TBR pile. But I’d recommend reading it in a house with lots of light and at least one other person inside.
Categories: book review